PHIRN: Population Health Improvement Research Network


smaller text tool iconmedium text tool iconlarger text tool icon

Cameron Norman


Cameron Norman’s research and professional service focuses on ways to address complex or wicked problems facing public health: those with multiple, dynamic causes and contextually-based consequences. Drawing on systems science, design thinking and health promotion theories and methods, Dr. Norman’s work has looked at ways to engage diverse communities in collective problem-solving and social innovation through social media technology, visual methodologies, and complexity-oriented planning tools. Cameron is the Principal of CENSE Research + Design based in Toronto and an Adjunct Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

Through funding from PHIRN and CIHR, Dr Norman and his team of researchers and staff have been looking at the issue of food systems and how to engage young people as agents of change within the St. James Town community in Toronto as part of a project called Food4Health. Using social network mapping, community engagement strategies like gardening and arts-based action research, and tying them together through social media, the Food4Health initiative provides a means of understanding how to engage young people meaningfully in health promotion.

What Dr Norman and his team have learned is that food + creative arts + technology is an attractive combination for promoting youth engagement in health promotion. Arts-based models of research that included using iPhones, digital video cameras and photography combined with social media tools like Facebook and YouTube allowed youth to document the food issues in their neighbourhood. Through social media youth were able to take their digital creations and share them with their peers and the community as a means of identifying the strengths in their community, and identify both gaps and opportunities for action. Taken together, networking these experiences and mapping the resources in the community laid the foundation for informed policy and program planning in the years to come, while increasing the skills, awareness and motivation to act on social issues among young people.

Dr. Yogendra B. Shakya


Dr Yogendra B. Shakya has a PhD from University of Toronto and is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. He currently works as the Senior Research Scientist at Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services. His research interests include social determinants of newcomer health, migration and health, health disparities faced by racialized groups, refugee mental health, and access to healthcare. Yogendra spearheaded the creation ‘Research for Change’ community-based research (CBR) at Access Alliance and leads a number of CBR projects. He has successfully undertaken multi-phase research projects on the adverse health impacts of precarious employment and on determinants of mental health for refugees. He is also a co-investigator on number of other studies including Migration and Diabetes project and a pilot study to test an innovative e-health tool called Computer Assisted Psychosocial Risk Assessment (CaPRA) with refugees. In line with CBR principles, Yogendra has trained and meaningfully engaged over 80 newcomers in leadership capacity as co-researchers in the research projects conducted by Access Alliance.

Under the leadership of Dr Shakya, Access Alliance received the PHIRN grant in 2010 for the research project titled ‘Pathways to Income Security and Health for Racialized Families.‘ This study took a ‘family focused’ framework (as opposed to individual focused) to understand the everyday strategies that precariously employed families use to achieve employment/income security and promote health at the family level. The study has produced very rich qualitative evidence about how precariously employed families negotiate work-life balance, household gender relations and division of labour (including childcare responsibilities), and community and transnational linkages to develop everyday strategies to mitigate or overcome adverse impacts of economic precarity. The study findings will be published in the soon to be released report titled ‘Where are the Good Jobs: Ten stories of Working Rough Living Poor’ and several journal articles. Informed by the study findings, the project team will also be releasing a toolkit called ‘Making Jobs Work: Resources for Achieving Employment Security’ which includes 15 user-friendly tools to enable people to find and negotiate for more stable, secure and safe jobs.

Yogendra has a two and half year old baby boy and a baby girl arriving soon (in June). When he is not doing research, Yogendra is busy composing children’s songs for his kids.

Read our previous newsletter

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 06 November 2012 15:10 )